For the past 12 months, I have run at least one-half marathon per month. I am not talking about just running 13.1 miles in my own time, I mean participating in official half-marathon events. From experience, I believe there are many benefits to running a half marathon every month and I will share these with you in this article. Enjoy!
What is a half marathon?
A half marathon is what it says on the tin; half a typical marathon distance. Marathons are 26.2 miles and half marathons are 13.1 miles.
They are classed as long distance events and seen as a decent challenge within the running community. Typically, runners tend to take on half marathons before doing a full marathon to get long distance event experience.
More people participate in half marathons than full marathons
Because they are not as endurance intensive as full marathons, they are more accessible and physically friendly to runners who don’t have extortionate amounts of stamina. Also, they don’t demand as much commitment in the form of time and effort during training. This explains why more people have completed half marathons than full marathons.
How can I make sure I commit to running a half marathon every month?
Booking a series of half marathons in one go is a great way to commit to running a half marathon each month. Not only does booking the events give you the motivation to train, but you will also be more motivated to commit to a half marathon a month because of the money spent.
People don’t like spending money without getting something in return. As you have paid for 3, 4, 5 or even 6 half marathons in advance, you’re more likely to participate in each one to get the value you have paid money for.
Just do it! Book the half marathons now
Before reading any further, I dare you to book at least 3 half marathons right now. One-half marathon for each month, for the next 3 months. Open a new tab, search for ‘Half Marathons Near Me’, find a suitable half marathon for each month and book. Don’t think about it too much. As Nike and Shia LaBeouf says, ‘Just Do It!’.
‘I need convincing first’
If you don’t want to ‘just do it’ and are not convinced about committing right now, read on and you’ll learn some reasons why you should run a half marathon every month.
Why should you run a half marathon every month?
Let’s look at some of the key reasons you should run a half marathon every month….
1. Stay motivated to keep running
I don’t know about you but unless I have something specific to train for, I find it difficult to maintain my running motivation. Setting the goal of running a half marathon a month means you have a regular event to train for, giving you a tangible and valid reason to run.
Do you know somebody who started running, got into great shape, ran a half marathon (or full one) and then a month later they’ve put on a few stone and don’t run at all? Without something to train for, it can be easy to slip into bad habits and leave running behind you as a fad. Having a half marathon to run each month will motivate you to keep running.
For example, my brother procrastinated with his training loads and only ran once (maybe twice) per week and racked up 6 miles on average. However, after being successful in his London Marathon draw he has been training much more. Now he runs at least 4 times a week and clocks up an average of 30 miles a week. When I asked him why he was training more, he simply responded ‘I have the London Marathon to train for.’
Book half marathons for motivation to keep running. It will work wonders, I promise.
2. Maintain a healthy weight with a proper diet
Unfortunately, some people struggle with their weight and nutrition is a key factor in this. Whether that means being overweight or underweight, either extreme is not healthy and should be avoided. Running a half marathon a month can help you maintain a healthy weight.
The physical demands of training will require a balanced and healthy diet up to the recommended daily calorie amounts (2000 for women & 2500 for men). If you live off of unhealthy foods like doughnuts, chocolate and takeaways, you’ll be in poor shape and fuelled incorrectly for physical performance. If you don’t eat enough and are severely underweight, you won’t have enough energy to train or participate in the events and will be at risk of serious injury (fainting, low blood pressure etc).
Doing a half marathon a month will demand a healthy & balanced diet which will naturally keep your weight in check. For recommendations on what foods to eat, check out this Eat Well Plate.
3. Maintain great fitness & health
I love doing a half marathon every month because it keeps me in good shape. Having an event to train for and compete in gives me a powerful reason to continually train on a consistent basis which means I reap many fitness and health benefits.
Humans were designed for constant physical activity which explains why so many of us experience health problems in the modern age of comfort and convenience.
Don’t let your fitness and health slip out of your priorities. Instead, commit to running a half marathon a month and ensure you regularly take action on your bodies exercise needs. Doing so means unlocking tonnes of life-enhancing benefits.
Health and fitness benefits of half marathon training include better blood flow, stronger muscles, increased endurance, having more energy, feeling happier, reduced risk of a heart attack, regulated blood pressure, living longer and many more. Simply life changing.
4. Grow as a person
‘On the other side of suffering is greatness’ David Goggins
I’m a big believer in constantly trying to grow as a person. I don’t subscribe to the idea that we’re born with a set number of abilities and talents, and that we cannot improve ourselves beyond these. Life is all about growth, and I believe running a half marathon each month can help you grow as a person.
David Goggins says the best way to develop as a person is to experience pain. Not in a counter-productive way, in a helpful way which will stress your body and mind so that you ultimately become tougher and stronger.
If you’ve participated in a half marathon (or even a marathon) then you know these events can be painful, often stripping you down to who you really are.
Running can be incredibly hard, challenging and push you beyond your limits. Half marathons are long distance races in the fast pace atmosphere of a race. People don’t tend to stop or slow down to a walk, instead people push themselves and see what they’re capable of.
I love doing a half marathon every month because it’s my opportunity to push myself, experience suffering and ultimately grow as a person. After each race, I have a new experience which adds another string to my personal bow.
Get out of your comfort zone once a month by participating in a half marathon. Grow as a person.
5. Beat your personal best
One reason to do a half marathon each month is to beat your personal best (PB) time. Setting half marathon time goals can direct our efforts towards training more and to a higher standard so we can achieve our desired time.
Once we achieve our PB goal, we experience huge satisfaction and pride within ourselves. It’s this desire to beat PBs which gives so many people the running bug, turning them into lifelong passionate runners.
For instance, you might have a PB of 1 hour 47 (1:50) but have a target of sub 1:45. You’ll be inspired to train more in the lead up to the half marathon where you will hopefully achieve your goal. If you don’t, there will always be the half marathon next month. It’s a win-win!
Once you’ve aced your PB, set your sights on smashing it again!
One of the best tools to beating your personal best can be a GPS running watch. For more information on these fantastic gadgets, check out this article:
6. Explore new locations
One of the best things about doing a half marathon each month is the opportunity to travel to new places.
I’ve been to many different places for the first time thanks to half marathons. The first time I visited Southampton, Deal, Paddock Wood, Hastings and Manchester were all due to booking and participating in half marathons.
Half marathons are great for exploring new places. You get to soak up the sights of the city during the half marathon, which usually has a route which goes past all the local landmarks. One of my favourite half marathons in a new place was Southampton where we ran through their Football stadium, famous fishing harbours and cruel but inspiring Itchen bridge.
Don’t just leave the exploring to the race itself, most half marathons are early in the morning and start between 8:30 – 10:00 AM. This means you can finish by midday and then make a day of seeing the local sights. This is particularly powerful for bonding with friends and family who come to support you as exploration can help develop relationships between people.
Get to know the new location by going for a meal in a local restaurant, visiting places of interest, taking a walk through the shopping centre and maybe even stay the night in a hotel or a B & B. Explore the locations you run half marathons in and create some wonderful memories!
7. Connect with friends and family
A half marathon a month is a brilliant way to develop relationships with friends and family. If somebody you know is into their running and fancies a challenge, why not get them in on running a half marathon each month with you?
I run my monthly half marathon with my brother. We don’t have much in common, but we do love running, so it’s a good opportunity for us to catch up whilst driving to the event and back. We don’t actually run together, but it’s nice knowing you have family nearby running the race with you. It really makes a difference. That’s just me, there are plenty of other examples of who you could run with.
Develop a loving bond by running with your partner, team build with work colleagues and motivate each other, catch up with a close friend at least once a month during the race. A half marathon a month is a fantastic opportunity to develop relationships. Whether that’s staying in touch with old friends, strengthening a romantic bond or building trust in colleagues at work, get others in on the half marathon each month!
Friends and family don’t physically have to run the half marathon for relationships to be developed. They could simply accompany you to each event and support you before hand, in the crowd during the race and after you cross the finish line. It’s a fantastic way of building trust and deeper connection, give it a try with someone in your circle.
8. You don’t need to commit to training as much compared to full marathons
Many people say training for a marathon if a lifestyle, not a hobby. To run a comfortable marathon, you need to be clocking up around 30-40 miles per week. That’s a lot time, effort and energy for a lot of people to be spending.
On the other hand, half marathons are half the distance of marathons so don’t require as much time and effort spent training.
This is attractive for lots of runners in our busy modern world. Work, families, the internet, clubs, societies and charity commitments eat up lots of our time so it can be difficult to factor huge amounts of running training into our lives.
Half marathon training can be conveniently fit into most schedules. To run a comfortable half marathon, 20-25 miles a week is recommended which can be split into 4 or 5 runs per week. This is much more manageable than marathon training, which is why more people train for and participate in half marathons.
Run a half marathon a month, you won’t need to commit to training as much compared to a marathon a month.
9. Make the most of friendly race competition
‘It is nice to have competition; it pushes you to do better.’ Gianni Versace
Competition is one of the best things for achieving amazing results in any wake of life, including running.
By dictionary definition, competition is ‘the activity or condition of striving to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others.’
During a race environment, we can use the runners around us to motivate us towards better performance. Trying to overtake as many runners as you can, one at a time, throughout the course of the race can drastically improve your timing.
For example, I achieved a time of 1:44:34 in my first half marathon. I didn’t try to overtake other runners, I just focused on running the distance. Fast forward a month and my second half marathon found me focusing on overtaking as many runners as I could (without burning myself out). As a result, I achieved a time of 1:37:41. Significantly quicker than my half marathon the month before.
Don’t think of it as wanting to beat others and establish dominance. This runs the risk of taking the fun and passion out of the sport for you. Instead, think of friendly competition as using others as a tool to achieve the best time you possibly can.
Doing a half marathon each month lets you test different competitive strategies. For one race you may spend only the second half overtaking, whereas another race might find you trying to overtake from start to finish. Doing a half marathon once a month means you can work out what competitive strategy is best for you and then achieve the best times you possibly can. Friendly competition truly is one of the best things about doing a half marathon a month.
10. Network with other runners, clubs and organisations
One of the best things about a half marathon each month is the opportunity to meet new people. Half marathons tend to be filled with people just like you; people who love running!
Events tend to be attended by running clubs, reputable running retailers, hundreds (usually thousands) of fellow runners and running organisations (such as UK athletics and running charities).
Connecting with other people can change your life forever. You could meet a club at a half marathon, then sign up for weekly sessions. Maybe you agree to get involved with a charity which helps blind people run. You could pace off of another runner the whole time and get chatting at the end, only to become lifelong friends.
Your life can change with one good connection. Connections can happen at running events like half marathons, so going on a monthly basis will drastically increase your probability of meeting someone brilliant.
11. Build a love affair with running
Running is arguably the greatest sport in the world. Anybody can take part, it’s low cost (often free), can be done anywhere and has life changing benefits. The more you run, the more you will uncover the amazing benefits of the sport.
Doing a half marathon once a month means regular exposure to the magic, trials and various experiences running can and does bring. If you have stuck with it and taken action on a half marathon a month for a few months, you will soon develop a love affair with running.
Running will become part of your lifestyle and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. It might sound strange to you now, but I guarantee you running can become a fun and fundamental part of your life if you stick with it long enough. Ask any dedicated runner why they run and they will often say they simply love running.
A love for running can be developed through running a half marathon a month. Go out there and make it happen!